Friday, January 04, 2008

Review: Taj Minar

This post is part of The Usual Suspect's Davao Food Trip. Thanks once more to Blogie for organizing it.

Taj Minar bills itself as a fine dining restaurant, and on this point it largely succeeds. The ambience of the place truly lends the air of fine dining, what with the subdued and tasteful interior decoration. Elegant wooden tables and woven tablecloths, fine china, and glass goblets: you get the works. For the place alone, it wouldn't be a bad choice for your intimate loaf-of-bread-bottle-of-wine-and-thou.

Well, maybe you better make that chappati bread, cup of chai, and thou.

Our host, Mr. Zafar Khan, had prepared for us a set meal consisting of papadam (a wafer-like appetizier), rice biryani and vegetable curry, and chicken korma. For dessert, we had carrot halva and chai tea. Did the meal capture the Indian flavor that I had come to expect? To a large extent, it did. The spicy tang of herbs and oils was there, and the besmati rice added to the authentic touch.

Two comments, though: first, Taj Minar seems to be struggling as to the right level of spiciness. This is a tough challenge as different people have different expectations. Mr. Khan acknowledged as much when he asked us whether the spiciness suited our tastes. (For me, it could have been spicier.) When you dine at Taj Minar, be sure to specify just how much zing you want in the food.

And second, the cooking is a bit too oily for my liking. This is definitely something that Taj Minar will have to address, especially with a health-conscious demographic among fine diners.

The best part of the lunch, though, was the chai tea. It was...perfect. It's tea the way I want tea to be. It took a while to make (which is the crucial element in the best teas) but when it was served, it was fragrant and aromatic and relaxing. It's worthwhile going back even if just for the tea alone.